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ROBERT BARNWELL RIIKTT 

ON THE BIOGRAPHY OF 

CALHOUN, 1854 



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CONTRIBU 1 II > l;v 



GAII.I.AKI) 111 



REPRINTED FROM THE 



American jfifetorical i!eviw 



vol. Xlll., No. 2 



JANUARY, iqc8 



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DOCUMENTS 

/. Joseph dales on the War Manifesto of i- 

Joseph Gales (1786-1860), of the firm of Gales and Seaton, 
author of the letter and memorandum which follow, was from iXio 
to i860 editor and proprietor of the National Intelligencer, and as 
such had unusual means of information concerning many events in 
the political history of the United States. Richard EC. Cralle, to 
whom the letter was addressed, was a wealthy planter in Virginia, 
of literary tastes and a devoted friend and follower of John C. 
Calhoun. When Calhoun was Secretary of State in 1844, he he- 
came the chief clerk of the Department of State, a position corre- 
sponding with that of an assistant secretary at the present time. 
He was Calhoun's literary executor and collected and edited his 
works (New York, 1853-1854). He also gathered material for a 
life of Calhoun of which only some disconnected notes survive. T 
am indebted to his grandson, J. Lawrence Campbell, esq., of Bed- 
ford City, Virginia, for the two letters which are printed here. 

For the report to which the first letter relates, see Annals of 
Congress, 12th Cong., part it., p. 1546, and compare the Presi- 
dent's message to Congress, June 1, 1812, Messages and State 
Papers of the Presidents,!. 499. The report has always, heretofore, 
been attributed to Calhoun. John Randolph Tucker's article on 
Calhoun in Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography, says : 
" He drew a report which placed before the country the issue of 
war, or submission to wrong." Von Hoist's Calhoun, p. 21, and 
his Constitutional History of the United States, I. 232, leave the 
impression that Calhoun wrote the report. Gay's Madison, p. 298, 
says: "Mr. Calhoun's committee followed this lead [set by the 
President's message] and improved upon it in the report recom- 
mending an immediate declaration of war." Henry Adams. His- 
tory of the United States, VI. 226, says: "Calhoun brought in a 
report recommending an immediate appeal to arms. As a history 
of the causes which led to this result, Calhoun's report was admira- 
ble, and its clearness of style and statement forced comparisons not 
flattering to the President's Message ", a remark which might have 
been withheld had the author known that the message and report 
came from sources so closely allied as to be almost intermingled. 

I 3°3 ) 



304 Documents 

The style of the message may be profitably compared with that of 
Monroe, especially in his letters 1 of February, 1810, to Richard 
Brent; of September 10 and November 19, 1810, and January 23, 
181 1, to John Taylor of Caroline; of February 25, 181 1, to L. W. 
Tazewell: and of June 13, 1812, to Taylor, the letter last referred 
to disclosing the policy of the administration with reference to the 
war. 

The allusion in the last paragraph of the letter is to the National 
Intelligencer for September 3, 1853, which contained in full the 
speech of John Randolph of Roanoke, delivered in the House of 
Representatives, January 12, 1813, published for the first time with 
certain editorial notes. In one part of the speech Randolph spoke 
of the rejection of Monroe's and Pinkney's treaty of 1806 and said 
that the putting of " one of these Commissioners of the United 
States — these very missionaries of peace and conciliation — into the 
Executive Councils of this country has been the signal of War with 
Great Britain ". Upon this the Intelligencer's note says : 

There is nothing in the whole of this speech that is more worthy 
of the reader's attention than this passage, which it would be yet diffi- 
cult for most readers of the present day to unravel without a clue to it. 
Mr. Monroe (at the time of this speech Secretary of State) had been 
the associate with Mr. Pinkney in the Commission at London, in the 
negotiation and conclusion of a treaty with Great Britain, which, on 
being transmitted in due form to the United States, was promptly re- 
jected by President Jefferson, without even waiting to take the sense 
of the Senate upon it. Against this rejection Mr. Monroe had earnestly 
protested; and upon his return soon after to the United States publicly 
vindicated himself from what he considered as a harsh proceeding on 
the part of the Executive, and implying an undeserved reproach upon 
him as a Statesman and a Minister. Among those who evinced a 
decided feeling against the Executive in this controversy was Mr. 
Randolph himself, who became in some sort the leader of a party 
making common cause with Mr. Monroe, and carrying his zeal to the 
extent of seeking to place that distinguished citizen in the field as a 
candidate for the Presidency upon the approaching expiration of Mr. 
Jefferson's term of service. Eventually, however, things took a dif- 
ferent turn. Before the election came on, Mr. Madison became the 
sole candidate of the Republican (Jeffersonian) party; and, long before 
the election actually took place, Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe were 
broughl together, during the summer vacation at Monticello, or else- 
where in Virginia — through the instrumentality, as it was then generally 
understood, of Mr. Jefferson — and whatever of coolness existed be- 
tween them was entirely removed by amicable explanations. We do 
' H'ritiugs of James Monroe (ed. Hamilton), vol. V. 



Joseph Gales on the War Manifesto <>/ 1812 305 

no) know that the friendship of Mr. Randolph to Mr. Monroe was by 
this latter incident turned to enmity, but it wa ibly abated. Nor 

was it at all restored by the acceptance by Mr. Monro* oi the offii 
Secretary oi State, offered to him by Pre ident Madison, midway of 
his first term of the Presidency, to till the vacancy which wa 
sioned by the resignation of Mr. Secretary Smith, in the spring of [811. 
I'he passage in Mr. Randolph's speech upon which we are now 
irking was hardly intended in kindness to Mr. Monroe perhaps 
nut m a hostile spirit hut certainly must he taken to convey a reflection 
upon his consistency in regard to the questions in controversy bet 
the United States and Great Britain, oul of which the existing war had 
sprung. However intended, it is due to the truth of history to say 
that Mr. Randolph hardly overstated the "fact" when he said that the 
accession of Mr. Monroe to the Cabinet had been the "signal of war 
with Great Britain." The connexion of the two events cannot, in- 
deed, well lie denied. We ourselves do not doubt that the opinions 
and exertions of Mr. Monroe greatly influenced the great event. We 
have ever believed, also, that his course in that trying emergencv was 
most honorahle to his discernment as well as to his patriotic and fear- 
less spirit; and that, therefore, no disparagement could be inferred 
from it to his consistency as a true American statesman. This is not 
the place, nor have we now the time, to undertake to indite the un- 
written history of that declaration of war. It would make a volume 
of itself. We content ourselves for the present with quoting from the 
late Oration of Mr. Crittenden (in memory of Mr. Clay) the following 
brief but just view of the position which Mr. Monroe occupied upon 
accepting the office of Secretary of State : 

" Mr. Monroe had returned but a year or two before from a course 
of public service abroad, in which, as Minister Plenipotentiarv, he 
had represented the United States at the several courts, in succession, 
of France. Spain, and Great Britain. From the last of these missions 
he had come home thoroughly disgusted with the contemptuous manner 
in which the rights of the United States were treated by the belligerent 
Powers, and especially by England. This treatment, which even ex- 
tended to the personal intercourse between their Ministers and the 
representatives of this country, he considered as indicative of a settled 
determination on their parts — presuming upon the supposed incapacity 
of this Government for war — to reduce to system a course of conduct 
calculated to debase and prostrate us in the eyes of the world. Rea- 
soning thus, he had brought his mind to a serious and firm conviction 
that the rights of the United States, as a nation, would never be re- 
spected by the Powers of the Old World until this Government sum- 
moned up resolution to resent such usage, not by arguments and protests 
merely, but by an appeal to arms. Full of this sentiment. Mr. Monroe 
was called, upon a casual vacancy, when it was least expected by himself 
"- the country, to the head of the Department of State. That senti- 



t 



06 Documents 



merit, and the feelings which we have thus accounted for, Mr. Monroe 
soon communicated to his associates in the Cabinet, and in some degree, 
it might well be supposed, to the great stateman then at the head of the 
Government." 

The last paragraph furnishes an explanation of the allusion in 
Mr. Moore's postscript to the letter which follows. 

Gaillard Hunt. 

William W. Moore to Richard K. Cralle. 

Office National Intelligencer, 
Washington, January 12, 1854. 
Richard K. Cralle, Esq. 

Dear Sir: The continued disability of Mr. Gales, in being deprived 
of the use of his right hand, has prevented, and still prevents him from 
replying auto graphically to your letter of the 27th ultimo, and he has 
therefore communicated to me the necessary information to enable me 
to answer, on his behalf, the inquiries contained in your letter. 

The War Manifesto reported in the House of Rep s on the third of 
June. 1 812, was the production of Mr. Munr.oe. Of this Mr. Gales is 
positively certain, as well from other knowledge as from his familiarity 
with the handwriting in which the Report is written, being that of 
Mr. Munroe's Private Secretary and Confidential Clerk. The Select 
Committee by which this report was made had the subject referred to 
them at the close of the day's sitting on the I st of June, and submitted 
their report on the opening of the House on the 3 d of June, which fact, 
taken in connexion with the importance of the subject and the con- 
ciseness of the statements of the report, sufficiently indicate the im- 
probability that the committee could, within the brief time that inter- 
vened after the reference, have deliberated upon the subject, prepared 
this report, and had it copied. The committee consisted of Messrs. 
Porter, Calhoun, Grundy, Smilie, Randolph, Harper, Key, Desha, and 
Seaver. Mr. Porter, the chairman, was called home in consequence 
of sickness in his family, and did not return to his seat in Congress for 
some time afterwards, if at all. The names of the Republicans who 
made the war report are underscored in the foregoing list of the com- 
mittee. If Mr. Porter had been present he would have sustained the 
report. Mr. Dallas had nothing to do with this report. He was not 
in Wa hington a1 the time, and did not enter the Cabinet till some two 
years afterwards. 

That your wish to be supplied with the sheets of the " Annals " re- 
lating to this interesting branch of our national history, which will 
enable you no doubt to connect and explain many of the events of that 
time, will be complied with, T trust you will already have been furnished 
with some evidence in the receipt of the parcel already sent, and which 
were dispatched before your letter came to hand. When others are 



Joseph Gales on the II ar Ma?iifesto of i& /.- 307 

read y ' sha11 endeavor to have them franked by the Representative 
from y.m i- I >istrict. 

Mr. Gales requested me to inform you thai he will cheerfully afford 
y° u evei 7 aid in his power in the p tion of your work and I 

you must not hesitate in submitting any point upon which ire 

information. 

£ mail to your address herewith a copy of the fntelligencer of the 
3 d of Se Pt- last, containing a Speech of Mr. Randolph, in the .Votes 
appended to which, prepared by Air. Gales with the aid of an amanuensis, 
is some reference to Mr. Monroe's agency in the War 1 hich 

you may have overlooked. \ letter ha. been received by Mr. Gales, 
since the publication of that speech, from a gentleman who was a con- 
fidential member of the Government a.t the time the Speech was made, 
entirely confirming the impressions stated in the "Notes" that Mr.' 
Monroe was the author of the war Report. 

Respectfully and very truly yrs. etc. 

Wm. W. Moore 
The above letter is in the handwriting 

of my son, who copied it for me. 

Jan. 20.— The above letter has heen detained since its date that I 
might find leisure to search for an unpublished article written by Mr. 
Gales two or three years ago, from which I send you two or three 
extracts. These, as well as this letter, it is needless to say. are trans- 
mitted for your private information and guidance, but not' for publica- 
tion. In regard to the extracts, I heard Mr. Gales remark, at the time 
he prepared them, and also since then, that if ever he found time to write 
a book on the subject, they should form part of it. Would to Heaven 
his health would permit him to write such a volume! It would be one 
of a most interesting character. I send the extracts, of course, with 
his knowledge; but, without his knowledge, (as he is not here at the 
office,) I deem it not improper to say to you confidentially, that they 
formed a part of several columns of interesting historical matter, written 
at the request and for the use of an eminent living statesman, who 
found it necessary to use only a portion of the matter thus furnished. 
Relying alone upon my memory. ] think that no part of the extracts 
herewith sent were used, and, if any, only a few sentences; and this 
is the reason why I now disclose to you the secret history of their 
preparation, that, in the event of any of these statements having before 
met your eye, you will he duly informed of their origin, and of the 
weight that should be given them. 

Trusting that this long epistle has not wearied you, 

I remain, etc. 

Wm. W. Moore 
R. K. Cralle, Esq. 



308 Documents 

Extracts from an unpublished article of Mr. Gales's. 

When Congress assembled in Nov. 1811, the crisis was upon us. 
But, as may be readily imagined, it could be no easy matter to nerve 
the heart of Congress, all unprepared for the dread encounter, to take 
the step, which there could be no retracing, of a Declaration of War. 
Nor could that task, in all probability, ever have been accomplished 
but for the concurrence, purely accidental, of two circumstances. . . . 
Mr. Monroe had returned but a year or two before from a course of 
public service abroad, in which, as Minister Plenipotentiary, he had 
represented the United States at the several Courts, in succession, of 
France. Spain, and Great Britain. From the last of these missions he 
had come home, thoroughly disgusted with the contemptuous manner 
in which the rights of the United States were treated by the belligerent 
Powers, and especially by England. This treatment, which even ex- 
tended to the personal intercourse between their Ministers and the 
Representatives of this country, he considered as indicative of a settled 
determination on their part, presuming upon the supposed incapacity 
of this Government for war, to reduce to system a course of conduct 
which, though perhaps begun by chance, had grown into a habit. Rea- 
soning thus, he had brought his mind to a serious and firm conviction 
that the rights of the U. States as a nation would never be respected 
by the Powers of the Old World until this Government summoned up 
resolution to resent such usage, not by arguments and protests merely, 
but by an appeal to arm<. ITis mind full of this sentiment, Mr Monroe 
was called, upon a casual vacancy, when it was least expected by him- 
self or the country, to the head of the Dep 1 of State. That sentiment, 
and the feelings which we have thus accounted for, Mr. Monroe soon 
communicated to his associates in the Cabinet, and. in some degree, it 
might well be supposed, to the great statesman then at the head of the 

. eminent. 

The trme of Pres 1 Madison's first message to Congress. (Nov r 5, 
[811,) a few months only after Mr. Monroe's accession to the Cabinet, 
can leave hardly a doubt in any mind of such having been the case. 
That message was throughout of the gravest cast, reciting the aggres- 
iggravations of Great Britain as demanding resistance, and 
urging uijon Congress the duty of putting the country " into the armor 
and attitude demanded by the crisis and corresponding with national 
spirit and expectations." 

Whilst Mr. Clay. Mr. Calhoun, and others, within the walls of the 

litol, were breaking lances with the opponents of the preparation 
For war. there was in operation, at the further end of the avenue, an 
influence less publicly exerti d, hut not less potent, upon the hearts and 
understandings of the younger Members of the House of Rep s , and 
Tally upon those who composed the Com ee on Foreign Relations. 
Comparatively young and inexperienced in National affairs, they nat- 



Joseph Gales 07i the War Manifesto oj 1812 

urally resorted to Mr Monroe, who mighl be termed, without a 
hyperbole, the Nestor of the day, Eor information and advice as to the 
affairs of which, as Secretary of State, he was the official depository, 
and Eor the lessons of experience which he had acquired by long service 
abroad. To these gentlemen, in frequent private consultations, prin- 
cipally at his own abode in the long winter nights, he constantly repeated 
the deep conviction of which I have already spoken, of the infinite dis- 
grace which would infallibly attend a longer submission to foreign 
insult and outrage; replying, night after night, to every sug n of 

postponement, delay, or renewed attempts at negotiation, " Gentlei 
ive must fight. We are forever disgraced it" we do not;" disgraced in 
our own estimation, in the eyes of our adversary, "and in the opinion 
of the world." 

In the face of a vigorous opposition, both II had finally passed 

several hills, which had become laws, for raising an army and enlarging 
the navy, with all the necessary adjuncts required tor active military 
and naval operations, and authorizing a loan to carry into effect these 
measure-. 

Chiefly through the fearless influence of the counsels of these 
ardent patriots, the House of Rep 8 , on whose decision, as the originator 
of all measures of revenue, the prosecution of a war must depend, was 
gradually warmed up to a war spirit. But the actual Declaration of 
war had not yet been proposed. The Pres 1 had. not from any back- 
wardness on his part, or doubt in regard to the necessity of a resort 

: nis. hut deterred by a remaining doubt in his mind as to the II 
sustaining the Executive in a declaration of war. hesitated to recom- 
mend the measure. 

More than six months had passed since Congress met, and the question 
of actual war was still in suspense. At length, after private confer- 
ence, a deputation of Members of Congress, with Mr. Clay at their 
head.'- waited upon the President, and. upon the representations of the 
readiness of a majority of Congress to vote the war if recommended, 
the Pres dnt , on the first Monday in June, transmitted to Congress his 
message submitting that question to their decision. The agency of Mr. 
Monroe in this measure was not yet at an end; for the Com ee on Foreign 
Relations, to whom the President's message was referred, had prevailed 
upon the Secretary, as being more fully possessed than themselves of 
the fact- and merits of the question, to prepare a Report upon the 
message: which Report was presented to the House of Reps, by the 

= Here doubtless is the origin of the story repeated again and again by 
historical writers that th tion called upon Madison and made an infamous 

bargain with him. promising him a renomination for the presidency in return for a 
war message, and that he reluctantly consented. See Hildreth. VI. 298: Mc- 
Master. III. 445: Yon Hoist. I. 230: Gay's Madison. 308; also for a truer account, 
Adams's Gallatin. 434. and Hunt's Madison, 316 ft. Xo author has thus far 
viewed the incident in the light in which the Gales narrative places it. 

AM. HIST. REV., VOL. XIII. — 21. 






310 Documents 

mittee. as their report, on the second day after the reception of the 
and. had been l from its length) evidently prepared, if not 
adopted, by the Committee before the message was sent in. It was an 
irate Manifesto, filling ten or twelve printed pages, and concluding 
the following language, which no one who had ever heard Mr. Munroe 
irse upon the subject, could doubt to have been his: 3 
Enclosed to K. EC. Cralle, Esq 
January 20, [854, by 
Win. W. Moore 
J he matter is copied in the handwriting of my son. 

Wm. W. Moore 

2. Robert Barnwell Rhett on the Biography of Calhoun. 1854 

Robert Barnwell Rhett, who wrote this letter, was born at 
Beaufort, South Carolina. December 24, 1800, and died in Louisi- 
ana. September i_\ [876. His name was Smith, but in 1837 he 
adopted the name of Rhett. He served in Congress from 1837 to 
[849 and succeeded Calhoun in the Senate. He went to Louisiana 
alter the Civil War and a \v\\ years before his death was principal 
in a duel in which he killed his opponent. 

The biograph) alluded to. a brochure of 74 pages, entitled Life 
John C. Calhoun, presenting a Condensed History of Political 
Events from 1811 to 1843 ( Harper and Brothers, New York, 1843), 
wa> published as a part of the Calhoun propaganda for the presi- 
dential nomination, hut it is far above the style of ordinary political 
literature, and has been the basis of much of the information con- 
rning hi- life. The final paragraph of the brochure speaks of the 
friendship of the author for Calhoun and closes (the italics beino- 

' v '"" littee, believing that tin- free-born sons of America are worthy 

y the liberty which their fathers purchased al the price of so much blood 

are, an.: in the measun ted by Great Britain, a course 

in, which must lead to a loss of national character 

ion in advising resistance by force, in which 

5 of the preseni .lay will prove to the enemy and to the world, 

ed that liberty which, our father- gave us. but also 

lintain it. Relying on the patriotism of the nation, and 

will go with us to battle in a righteous 

se - •'"' r efforts wit ess, your i i mmitti i n commend an imme- 

Nothing would satisfy the ■ Ministry id short of uncon- 

ditional submission, which it was impossible to make. , t being com- 

the only remaining alternative was to j dy for fighting, 

and '•'" ready. 'I his was the plan of the administration 

wh< ' the President's mi ig, annoum ii ; and 

en by the administration since has led to it." Monroe to Taylor.. 
June Hamilton), V. 



Rhett on the Biography of C alhoun 



3" 



ui- 

w 



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in the original) : " His [the author's] statements of facts and op., 
ton he knows to be entirely authentic, and after a deliberate revie., 
of ever) sentence and word he has written, he finds nothing which 
a reverence for justice and truth will allow him to alter." ThL 
Life has always heretofore been attributed to R. .\l. T. Hunter 
Senator from Virginia 1847 to 1861, and Secretary of State to the 
Confederacy. 3 

Gaillard I [unt. 

Robert Barnwell Rhett to Ri< hard K. Cralle. 

Si llivans Island < >cl 2? i.S; 1 
My Dear Sir M 

It seems to me your course is very plain as to the Documents you 
mention. Von are publishing the works of Mr. Calhoun. You should 
exercise a sound discretion as to what you should publish. But if you 
publish any matter which (lowed from his pen, you should publish it as 
he wrote it. If he made corrections, insert them. Bui ii" others made 
corrections, the corrections ought to be rejected. In the Exposition for 
instance, it was greatly altered by the Committee who reported it to 
the Legislature of which I was one. Mr. Calhoun had nothing to do 
with these corrections and I know disapproved of them. 1 think you 
ought to include in your publication his Addresses to the People of the 
U. S. and South Carolina. He wished to have put them forth They 
were read to the South Carolina Delegation in Congress to obtain their 
judgment upon them. They were suppressed, and greatly to his morti- 
fication and indignation. Publish them by all means. So his letter on 
Disunion. There is but one thing written by Mr. Calhoun that you 
ought not to publish as his— and that is— "his life." He wished me 
to Father it— but I told him, that it was impossible for me directly or 
indirectly to allow any one to understand that I was the author of a 
publication which I had not written. Hunter and I read it over to- 
gether in my house in Georgetown. He inserted about a page and a 
half, and became the putative author; and it has done more to lift him 
to his present position than any thing else in his public life. 

Are you going to write his life. If you are there are many things 
which ought to he unveiled. For instance do you know that when 
Tyler first quarrelled with the Whigs, he offered the office of Secy of 
State to Mr C- - with a carte-blanche as to the Cabinet. Hunter 

and I both urged Mr. C- • with all our might to take it. But 

after anxious consideration he declined it— one of the greatest blunders 
he ever committed. Wise knows I presume all about It— and of course 
Tyler. Dan Hamilton applied summer before last for two Documents 

1 Calhoun writes to his daughter, Correspondence, p. 524, " Mr. Hunter has 
rewritten most of the [sketch] : so much so as fairly to he entitled to the author- 
ship " ; but he says nothing of the original writer. 



312 Documents 

in my ; one a letter of Mr. Calhoun as to the course South 

should pursue, if the other Southern States abandoned him 
in the controvery of [850- the other was the curious proceeding by 
which the Southern Rights Senators in the Senate of the U. S. signed 
a paper pledging themselves, to defeat the Bill admitting California 
by any means the majority of them should determine on. Yet when 
the point came, they backed out — the Virginia Senators and the South 
irolina Senators going against any measures whatever. This was the 
true cause of the failure of the South in that great controversy, and 
it is due to history and truth that the matter should be known. Did 
Hamilton give you these Documents, and do you intend to embody them 
in your life of Mr. Calhoun ? 

I assure you, it would give me great pleasure to assist you in any- 
way in your labours of friendship to our great departed friend. Altho', 
my who[le]public-life seems to me to have been a failure and to have 
elide. 1 in vanity, yet I thank God, that so much of it. was spent in 
association with one so worthy of my esteem and admiration. I dif- 
fered with him on two occasions— the election of Taylor, and the 
Mexican war. But in the last struggle of bis and my political life, we 
came together again. We fought for the South, lie fell dead in the cause 
-I. living. Had be lived we would together have conquered. As it 
ither of us will be able to vindicate ourselves. But time will do 
it for us— at bast for him. for my name will be too feeble to be 
connected with bis great fame. The Southern People have but one 
alternative— Independence, or ruin. Under the Union as it exists, our 
l in. 
1 thank you for your kind invitation, and should I again visit Vir- 
ginia, I shall surely avail myself of it. 

Y"ours 1 'ear Sir most truly 

R. B. Rhett. 
Mr. Ricbb K. Cr 

S. The manuscript you speak of was sent to a Committee in 

harleston Elmore Gourdin Cronin and others. I was on Sullivans 

Island, a fugitive from Yellow fever with my family. As soon as I 

ran go to Charleston 1 will see to it. The letter of Mr. Calhoun on our 

tution. to which Judge Emory refers. I will send to you. 

; published this summer in "The South Carolinian" in Columbia, 

contributed largely in rallying public opinion in the late 

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